Shawn Johnson's the body department - How to Get More Out of Your Pumpkin
Karen Psiaki, RD, LDN

How to Get More Out of Your Pumpkin

If you’re on your Halloween A-game, then you’ve probably already picked up your pumpkin and have your Jack-o-lantern face all sketched out, just waiting for the right time to carve it and set it out on the porch, right?! But what will happen to your friend Jack after Halloween night? If you hate the idea of throwing him out, here are two simple things you can do to make sure that you get the most out of your WHOLE pumpkin!

Pumpkin Seeds. Toasted pumpkin seeds make for a simple, healthy, delicious snack! Not only are they loaded with fiber, but they’re also a good source of protein and minerals like zinc and magnesium.

Nutrition facts (¼ cup plain roasted seeds): 71 calories, 9g carbs, 3g protein, 3g fat, 3g fiber

How to do it:
1) As you’re carving your pumpkin, separate out as many of the seeds as possible and place them in a large colander. Try to separate them out from the “goop” as much as possible, but don’t worry if there’s a bit of the orange stuff stuck to them… you can clean that off later.
2) Once you’ve collected your seeds, run cold water over them as you pick off the remaining bits of goop.
3) Spread the seeds out on paper towels and pat dry. The seeds can be a bit moist, but they shouldn’t be wet.
4) Spread the seeds out into a single layer on a large baking sheet and drizzle with just a bit of olive oil.
5) Sprinkle with desired toppings (see below for ideas) and stir with a spatula to make sure they’re well mixed.
6) Bake at 300°F for 25 minutes or until golden brown, stirring half-way through to ensure that the seeds bake evenly.

Flavoring: There are several delicious ways to flavor your pumpkin seeds! My favorites include a hint of salt, cinnamon and sugar, or cayenne pepper and paprika. But you can be creative and try your own variations! Just beware that some toppings will add calories to the dish, so the nutrition facts above will change.

2) Pumpkin Puree. Homemade pumpkin puree is the perfect substitute to canned pumpkin, plus it saves some cash! All you need is a knife, a cutting board, a crock pot, a blender, and some patience. Not only is pumpkin a fat-free vegetable, but it’s also rich in potassium, vitamin, A and vitamin C!
-A 1 ¾ cup serving of puree = one 15-oz can.

Nutrition facts (1 cup): 50 calories, 12g carbs, 1g protein, 0g fat, 2.5g fiber

Shawn Johnson's the body department - How to Get More Out of Your Pumpkin

How to do it:
1) Using a large butcher’s knife, cut the pumpkin into strips or chunks that are easier to fit into a crock pot. (Ex: for a large pumpkin, I usually end up with about 8-10 pieces.)
2) Using a smaller knife, remove skin and cut into cubes.
3) Place in crock pot and cook on low for 4-5 hours or until flesh is very soft.
4) If using an immersion blender, puree the pumpkin right there in the crock pot. Otherwise, transfer the pumpkin to a blender and puree (may take a few separate “batches” depending on the size of the blender).
5) Allow puree to cool before transferring to fridge or freezer.

If you plan to use your puree within 1 week, it is safe to store in the refrigerator. Otherwise, freeze your pumpkin in small portions so you can use it later on!

*This post was originally published on Karen’s website, www.karenpsiaki.com. For more from Karen be sure to visit www.karenpsiaki.com

Karen is a food lover and endorphin addict with a passion for sports and fitness. Growing up as a competitive gymnast, she struggled with poor body image and found it hard to accept and appreciate the body she’d been given. However, with the help of family, friends, and nutrition experts, she was able to turn a negative obsession into a healthy interest… and a career! She now works as a Register…

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